What is virtualization? Why Virtualize?

VM What is virtualization? Why Virtualize?What is Virtualization? Why Virtualize?

 Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. (Courtesy: Wikipedia) In simple terms, let me say that virtualization is a technology to carve up 1 physical server in to many servers (virtual servers).

In this short article, my goal is to explain the benefits of virtualization in simple terms. There are many benefits of virtualization besides the ones I refer to in this article but I will stay with the following benefits to keep it simple.

  1. Reliability
  2. Scalability
  3. Energy Savings
  4. Maintenance Savings
  5. Real Estate Savings
  6. Financial Savings

I mentioned above about the need for a backend technologies needed. I was referring to the need for SAN (Storage Area Network). This article assumes you will have a SAN and 2 physical servers at your office. I will explain what a SAN is at a later post.

Benefit #1: Reliability

Virtual servers can offer fault tolerance and make it high available if it is setup correctly. Let us say, you have the following four servers at your company.

  1. Exchange Server
  2. File Server
  3. Database Server
  4. Domain Controller Server

Ordinarily, these four servers need four physical servers. If server hardware crashes, you are out of commission until the hardware can be replaced. In a virtualized environment, these four servers can run with two physical servers and a SAN in the backend. If one physical server crashes, the other server will automatically take control of the servers in the dead hardware and continue to run as if nothing happened. This type of setup will give you 99.999% uptime if the engineer who is setting up everything setup correctly.

Benefit #2: Scalability

What if you want to add another file server to your existing infrastructure? In a regular network infrastructure, you need to buy another physical server. In a virtualized environment, you can carve out another server without buy any additional physical server assuming that you have enough CPU power and memory. 

Tip: If you purchase a Windows Server Enterprise CAL, you can install four (4) instances of the Windows Servers.

Benefit #3: Energy Savings

The power consumption and cooling to keep all the physical servers up and running can be high depending on the organization size. In a virtualized environment, since you can add more servers without adding physical servers, energy savings can be substantial.

Benefit #4: Maintenance

Maintaining an ordinary physical server can be high when compared to virtualized servers. As an administrator responsible for maintain the servers, keeping all BIOS and other software on a physical server, monitoring the servers can be high and time consuming.

Benefit #5: Real Estate

In the above scenario, four servers and other network devices can take up an entire rack of space. In the virtualized environment, since you don’t need as many physical servers, rack or space can be freed up for other usage.

Benefit #6: Financial Savings

Although I love the technical aspects and its advantages, financial savings can be huge as well.

Normal Networked Environment

Servers Cost
(2) Exchange Server $12,000
(2) File Server $12,000
(1) Domain Controller $6,000
(1) Database Server $6,000
(1) Remote Access Server $6,000
(1) Custom Application Server $6,000
(1) Financial Application Server $6,000
(1) Resource Server $6,000
Total $50,000


Now, let’s see how much a virtual environment would cost to run the above servers.

Servers Cost
(2) physical servers $20,000
(1) SAN $20,000
Total $40,000


If you compare the above 2 scenarios, you can see the 25% savings in hardware costs immediately. This doesn’t include the savings in power, cooling, real estate costs. If you add the benefits of virtualization on top of this savings such as failover, highly available servers, scalable and less required maintenance servers, this is no brainer. Whether you are a small or big organization, you should consider virtualizing your network environment. If you have any comments about this article or wants to discuss further regarding your organization’s virtualization project, please send me an email to

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